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Using Chunks to Successfully Get Things Done

November 16, 2009

I wanted to pass along a couple of tips that help improve your chance
of being successful with that next improvement effort.  We are witnesses
to individual and organization’s attempts to improve every day, working
with ManagePro installations and deployment.  Using ManagePro
inevitably involves a work smarter improvement process, sometimes
to the dismay of the users, and gives me a front row seat to the

Anyway, these tips boost your chances for success at getting things done,
whether you’re focused on something corporate, like your strategic plan
or applying software, or something personal, like maintaining your key

#1 The first tip I’d like to cover is simply this –
Chunks work better than goals most of the time.

It’s funny, you need goals, an outcome, something to shoot for, etc,
to get the improvement process focused and launched.  But, if you
don’t chunk up your goals (break them down into specific action steps),
they remain as aspirations and most people don’t have much long term
success implementing goals.

What do I mean by chunks or chunking?

Chunking refers to breaking down any process into bite sized or smaller
increment sub-tasks. It’s not really defined, but it’s usually implied
that chunks are something you can complete in a short period of time.
It may be 30 minutes for some, 90 minutes for others.

Here’s a quote from James at Organize It that demonstrates the use of this
concept: “I am about the whole idea of breaking your work down into tiny
chunks of activity (or next actions if you’re a GTD fan). I do it so often in
fact that any little project I have I will look at how it can be broken down.”

Another way to think of this is in using the “bake the cake” analogy.
I know of a few people who can bake a cake by just making it up. The
goal or outcome is enough for them to know what to do and get it done.
For the vast majority, e.g. the rest of us, we need a recipe, something
that breaks the process down into a series of concrete steps, otherwise
we are soon stumped or don’t have very good outcomes.  I know I won’t.

You may be thinking “Well duh! Nothing new here.”, but if you step back
and look at whatever goals or improvement processes you have in
place you may find that a significant proportion have not been
chunked down… and as a result are likely to end up as unrealized

Malcom Gladwell’s book, Outliers, suggests that after doing a specific type of
task for 10,000 hours, you become so competent that the whole concept of
chunking may become irrelevant.   Until then, and especially if you need other
(non-10,000 hour) people to assist you… practice chunking for better results.

Bottom Line:
No goal, no process, no improvement target is really ready for
prime time, for assimilation and application by more than a few
experts, until it has been broken down into chunks.  Breaking
activities into chunks immediately improves your odds for success.

Being Strategic about People, Information and Technology

2 Comments. Leave new

Chunking the Work Process and the Role of Comfort
January 19, 2010 1:32 pm

[…] Being Successful using Chunks Technology for Translating Work into Track-able Chunks Project Management + Task Mangement + […]

Business Email Management Tips | Project Management, Collaboration, and Task Software: Promana
November 5, 2011 1:32 pm

[…] for a successful phone call.If it’s not clear already I’m a big fan of chunking… take a look at what chunking means… it’s basically just doing one task/process/thing at a time – I define chunking […]


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